Saturday, September 7, 2013

Apple Trees and Memories

Here in New England, it's apple-picking time.  And it was here in New England that I first took part in the popular activity of going to orchards and picking your own apples.  However, long before I moved to New England, I was quite familiar with the magic of apple-picking time.

When I was growing up, my grandparents lived across town and we spent a lot of time visiting them.  In the middle of their backyard there was a tree - an apple tree.  Actually, I should call it an APPLE TREE, for it was huge.  I can't really tell you what kind of apple tree it was, as it had clearly been grafted several times over the years, and it bore a wide variety of apples. Throughout the summer, we would play around the tree, without paying much attention to anything about the tree other than the fact that it was in our way.  But as the summer progressed, the tree began to change.  Blossoms formed, and then fell off, replaced by miniature apples.  As summer headed to an end to be replaced by fall, the miniature apples grew into full size apples. As the apples grew and ripened, we'd pick apples off the tree and eat them,  but there were always far more than we could possible eat.  Pretty soon they'd start falling off the tree, and we would be tasked with picking them up and putting them in the bushel baskets that we hadn't seen in a year.  Ultimately we'd find ourselves recruited to pick the apples that remained on the the tree.  And the next thing we knew, "The Day" would arrive.

What was "The Day"? "The Day" was actually a full weekend.  At the beginning of the weekend, we would go over to my grandparents' house, with boxes of mason jars.  We'd spend the entire day peeling apples, cutting apples, and cooking apples.  Everybody pitched in ...  no one was too old, or too young to not take
 part in "The Day".

After apples were peeled, cut and cooked, we proceeded to make apple jelly, apple butter, apple sauce, and of course apple pies.  At the end of a long day, we'd be surrounded with jars of wonderful apple-ness...  and bushels of apples that hadn't been touched yet.  So we'd have to return the following day for a repeat.  As we were finally wrapping up the last of the apples, my grandmother would bring out the itty-bitty pie tins, and my sister and I would be allowed to make teeny-tiny apple pies of our very own.

I don't make apple jelly, or apple butter, or apple sauce, or even apple pies, any more.  But every year, as apple-picking season comes along and I see those apple trees laden with ripe apples, I think of the time spent in grandma's kitchen, peeling and cutting and cooking and jarring and pie-making.  And I think of how delicious that apple jelly and apple butter and apple sauce tasted.  And I think of those special little itty bitty pie tins and those teeny tiny apple pies.  And as good as everything was...  the best part is the memories of the time we all spent together.

By the way, it was at my grandparents' house that I first started drinking tea... so this stroll down the apple-tree-lined memory lane had made me think it's time to have a cup of tea...  Typhoo, of course.  And perhaps I'll have an apple, as well.

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  1. *sniff*
    I don't remember the teeny pies...but the apple jelly was the best EVER!

  2. We also had apple trees, and did the same type of canning. And when Grandma and Mom finished making the "real" pies, they gave us the scraps of dough and cut up apples and we made little pies too. Put them in Banquet potpie tins. Thanks for the memories!

  3. I don't remember the pies, but I remember the Apple Butter and the Apple Jelly!! You really don't know how special things are until they are gone...Miss my Grandma Bea and you too!